Twenty-nine Years Ago Today

Posted: November 17, 2007 in The Roper Files
Tags: , , , , ,

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November 1978…I’m in a motel room in Huntington Beach California. I was on a business trip for a company I was working for at the time. Thanksgiving is approaching; I’m living out of a suitcase and wondering if I’m going to get back home in time for Thanksgiving. Swilling down bacardi and cokes while watching Saturday Night Live. All of a sudden We Have Breaking News. Congressman Ryan is dead, as well as 900 people in some place called Guyana. In my drunken Saturday night stupor I thought this must have been some twisted Michael O’Donoghue skit; this couldn’t be happening. But the newspaper the next morning confirms the grim story; this was much more than some silly SNL sketch. 

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A few days later, I’m walking through LAX on my way home to Texas. In the terminal I notice a small crowd of people with their noses pressed to the windows facing the runway. Looking through the window, I could see a cargo plane on the tarmac and workers unloading several aluminum containers from it.  A man next to me turns to me and says one word: Guyana. Those containers were coffins with the cyanide-soaked (and bullet-ridden) remains of Jim Jones followers.  As I type these words I feel the same creepy shudder going through my entire body even after all these years.

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

Don’t think I’ll be forgetting this anytime soon. 

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